Thorne Miniature Rooms

I experienced a “new thing” this summer that was also a bucket list item. I finally saw the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. We have been to Chicago numerous times, however, art museums were not on our destination list as a family with little boys. Time marches on of course…. and now we have a young adult son studying at Loyola Chicago. This summer he was hired for an internship so we visited Chicago to help him apartment shop. When we could not obtain any apartment visits, we had time on our hands and ended up at the Art Institute of Chicago. Finally!

Very briefly, Mrs. James Ward Thorne created 68 miniature rooms in the 1930’s and 1940’s. There are 31 rooms representing European Architecture and 37 representing American architecture. The quality and detail of the furnishings are exquisite and it’s hard to tell you are looking at miniatures when you see photographs.

Here are some of my favorite rooms – English Library, English Reception Room, English Bedchamber, French Bathroom, English Entrance Hall, Tennessee Entrance Hall, English Dining Room and English Library. In addition to detailed furniture replicated in miniature, there are exquisite carpets, carved paneling, elaborate fireplaces and painted walls. Some rooms have doors or windows revealing exterior garden designs and landscaping.

The ironic part is that after years of not visiting since I thought I was the only family member who would enjoy it, our son loved the Art Institute and we actually stayed longer than I wanted to.

What can you knock off of your bucket list?


Franklin Park Conservatory

One of my 50 “new things” was having a sisters weekend with my two sisters. I’m happy to report that we’ve been on our sixth weekend together since 2014. This year we return to our first spot, Columbus, OH which is about halfway between our homes of Indianapolis and Akron.

Our sister weekends usually consist of shopping, eating and chatting. This year, we did a “new thing” and visited the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden which was about a 5 minute drive from our B&B.

The conservatory has several permanent pieces by glass artist Dale Chihuly and through March 2020, has a special exhibition with loaned pieces called Chihuly: Celebrating Nature. We are so blessed to see this stunning artwork. There is just nothing like Chihuly glass work and Columbus has the largest collection in a botanical garden.

For example:

Amazing, right?

Other things we loved in Columbus:

  • Hawthorne Park B&B – if you’re looking for a Columbus B&B experience, stay here!
  • Milestone 229 for dinner
  • Marcellas in the Short North for dinner
  • The Book Loft in German Village – used and new books, we can browse for hours…

Weekend getaways are great – where do you like to go?

What I’m Grateful For This Week…

Our family summer trip is to Seattle, Washington to visit my father-in-law. His health is failing so in the fall he will move back to Indiana after nearly 40 years in Seattle. We celebrated with him at an evening dinner at Palisades and an afternoon open house at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. With a family member in declining health, there were some rough times but I was determined that our family would enjoy at least one moment every day. Often we only had 2 spare hours so we found things to do in only 2 hours. Here are our outings and bright spots:

1. Gasworks Park – On our first full day in Seattle, my husband and I made a quick trip to Gasworks Park. It was a gorgeous day so we had a beautiful view of downtown and the Space Needle looking over Lake Union. This visit also brought back fond memories of coming here with our boys when they were younger.

2. Olympic Sculpture Park – This was our quick afternoon outing the first full day of our oldest son’s visit. We visited this park the last time we were in Seattle but it has really expanded and we enjoyed a fairly long walk along the waterfront away from the downtown.

3. Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Tasting – We have a little more time today but not both of our kids so we try to find something to do that our younger son will not be left out of. The winery is perfect because the youngest is only 20 and could not join us in the tasting. We enjoy our tour and tasting of the winery. Then the three of us enjoy a select tasting of four Col Solare red wines. This is great fun and we go home with a bottle of the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon to be opened when we celebrate our oldest son’s college graduation, hopefully not too far in the future.

4. Space Needle – Now the four of us are together in Seattle so today’s quick outing is downtown to the Space Needle. I initially question why we are going here when our time is limited and we have seen this landmark so many times. The Space Needle has been updated, however, and is well worth the stop.

5. Waterfront – Seattle’s downtown waterfront has changed dramatically since we last visited 8 or 9 years ago. The Alaska Way viaduct is down which really opens up the area. Maybe we can return in a few years to see the full renovation. We stop at a favorite landmark, Pike Place Public Market, to see the flowers and produce and flying fish. We browse in a fun store with tea and spices. I have a great treat when I lunch with a work colleague at a market deli. Before we head back for the open house, the boys stop at a French bakery for croissants and melt in your mouth macarons – quite wonderful!

6. Mt. Rainier – On our last day in Seattle, we have our longest outing when we drive to Mt. Rainier. We need to be back in Seattle for dinner with family so we only have a couple hours at the national park. We have had beautiful weather for our visit and today is lovely. We hike the Sunrise Trails and have wonderful scenery to enjoy before returning to the Midwest.

Wishing you at least 2 hours of joy and gratitude each day!

What I’m Grateful For This Week…

This week’s gratitude list is also a “new thing”. I’ve seen beautiful photos of Hocking Hills State Park for years and finally crossed it off the bucket list with a long weekend in Logan, Ohio.

1. Hiking – I enjoy hiking in state parks and Hocking Hills State Park has a wonderful trail system. We spent the day there and just scratched the surface as there is so much to explore.

2. Waterfalls – This feature is what attracted me to Hocking Hills State Park in the first place. They have numerous waterfalls given the hilly terrain and the gorges.

3. Seven Course Dinner – We stayed at the Glenlaurel Inn and I highly recommend this venue if you prefer more sophisticated lodging then camping or cabins. Our room was lovely and the food was amazing. We enjoyed a 3 course breakfast every morning – porridge, a delicious egg entree and yummy scones. We purchased a picnic lunch to enjoy the day we went hiking which allowed us to see more of the park since we didn’t have to leave and drive to a nearby restaurant. Then we splurged on the seven course dinner which was an amazing burst of flavors prepared creatively by Chef Jean Michel.

Courses 1 and 2 were appetizers. The butternut squash ravioli was one of my favorites.

Course 3 was a spinach soup – a little spicy with roasted poblano but very flavorful.

Course 4 is a wonderful salad of springtime greens.

Course 5 is a sorbet to cleanse the palate before our entree.

We both have lamb for our Course 6 entree. The cranberry cherry mustrada crust is to die for.

The final course is a mousse like chocolate with popcorn on top for a lovely combination of sweet and salty. Yum!!

4. Sunsets – We also had a beautiful sunset with gorgeous color during our long weekend. Pretty perfect!

What in nature has you feeling grateful this week?

What I Am Grateful For This Week…

1. Small businesses – we took our Board on a tour of Hometown Bicycles in Brighton, MI. Hometown Bicycles is one of the recipients of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis small business grant – Elevate. They are using their $25,000 grant to expand their repair shop and to build a community room for other small businesses and organizations to use as meeting space. I am impressed by the bicycles, repair shop, job creation, kid area, sign posts, gift section, community space, business incubation and women entrepreneurs.

2. Other things I am loving this week – siblings, hot tea, chocolate, family recipes, scones, warm weather, healthy cooking demos, cast iron pans, lilacs, Bible journals and candles.

3. Mother’s Day last Sunday – I enjoyed priceless time with my sons and a yummy brunch. They restocked me with candles and tea bags. So blessed!

What are you blessed with this week?

What I’m Grateful For This Week…

There is nothing like a week at the beach to make you feel grateful…

1. Seafood – as someone who does not eat a lot of meat, I love having multiple fish and seafood options on the menu. I’ve been feasting on grouper, shrimp, scallops, and crab cakes. Snapper anyone? Delicious!!

2. More sunsets – any explanation needed?

3. Good friends – who wouldn’t feel blessed after spending a week at the beach with good friends?

4. Other things I am loving this week – small towns, olive oil stores, book stores, jigsaw puzzles, reading time, seashells, dolphins, happy hour and safe travels home.

What is on your gratitude list this week?

“I wonder if the beach misses me?”

What I’m Grateful For This Week…

1. New Office Furniture – We recently moved to the first floor of our building into a newly updated suite. About a month later, my new office furniture arrived and it is amazing. I love the standing desk component. My office looks great and the space is so functional. I am blessed!

2. Sunsets – the end of the week finds us at the beach for Spring Break with friends rather than college students. Our first walk on the beach includes a lovely sunset. I love sunsets! More blessings!!

3. Other – I am also grateful for my health, Pilates mat class, friends, family, a great haircut, spring, safe travels and sand castles. Are you counting your blessings?

More next week from the beach!

“Gratitude is being more aware of what you have than what you don’t.” Max Lucado

What I’m Grateful For This Week…

Quick list – no photos:

– Peace

– Oatmeal

– Communion

– Music

– Easter

– Mentors

– Taxes filed

– Stars

– Honesty

– Hot chocolate

– Space heaters

– Lighthouses

– Panini press

– Houseplants

– Elliptical trainer

– Journals

– Avocado toast

– Finishing a novel

Your list?

“Do more things that make you forget to check your phone.”

What I’m Grateful for This Week…

This has been a travel week for me – four cities and two states in addition to the city and state that I live in. Here are things that keep me upbeat while away from home:

1. Remodeled hotel rooms – I am blessed to stay at nice hotels and eat yummy food while traveling for my company. Rooms with updated decor, adequate work space, lots of outlets and a pot to heat water for tea make my time away comfortable and enjoyable. This hotel is in the process of updating and I am lucky enough to get the updated room.

2. Awards presentations – Every year, we honor one of our financial institution partners with our Community Spirit Award to recognize their dedication to affordable housing and community economic development. A highlight for me this week was surprising one of our bankers with an award at our workshop in Troy, Michigan. This individual has distributed nearly $3 million in grant funds to help first-time homebuyers with down payment assistance and home repairs for lower wealth individuals. He also received $50,000 in grants for small businesses during 2018.

3. Girls’ Weekend – I concluded my travels with a quick weekend get away with a dear friend who lives in Atlanta. We met at the Atlanta airport and flew to Tampa for two nights at the Treasure Island Beach Resort. Relaxing poolside, walking on the beach, eating seafood, talking and eating more seafood – need I say more?

What is on your gratitude list this week?

“Joy is the serious business of heaven.” C.S. Lewis

What I’m Grateful For This Week…

Well, I have slowed down on my “new things” with the last thing posted after our Aspen, CO visit six months ago. I’ve been enjoying other bloggers’ posts on what they are loving and/or grateful for so I’ll try sharing some things from my gratitude list…

1. Sunshine and Jeans Week – it is cold where I live, currently bitterly cold with snow on the ground. My spirits are so much higher when the sun is shining so sunshine is usually on my gratitude list. Similarly, it is easier to cross the parking lot on a single digit morning when we can wear jeans and a warm casual coat. We have the option of paying for a Jeans Week each month with the money supporting a charity in one of the states we serve. Win-win!

2. Weeknight pasta dishes – With my busy schedule and work travel, quick weeknight meals are a must. This pasta dish from Rachael Ray comes together quickly. A box of uncooked linguine, 1 lb. bag frozen shrimp, 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic, 3 T olive oil and 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper go into a skillet with a jar of marinara sauce and 3 1/2 cups of water for 20 minutes. You top the finished dish with gremolata – 1 clove finely chopped garlic, 2 T chopped fresh parsley and 1 T lemon zest. Yum!

3. Customer workshops – During the first quarter of each year, we travel across Indiana and Michigan to update our customers about our affordable housing grant programs. I am loving being in Grand Rapids, MI to share information about our grants and to hear what projects people are working on to improve their communities. So inspiring!

4. Family at Home – my absolute favorite thing this week was having family home. My college son visited from Chicago after spending the first half of Spring Break visiting a friend in Savannah. My brother visited for the weekend and the guys cooked dinner together. Great memories!

What are you grateful for this week?

“Gratitude is peace.” Anne Lamott